Felixstowe responds to experts' concerns

EXPERTS commissioned to draw up a blueprint for the future of Felixstowe are today delighted with the initial response from the public.David Lock Associates held a two-day exhibition in the town centre to seek people's views about their research into the problems faced by the resort.

EXPERTS commissioned to draw up a blueprint for the future of Felixstowe are today delighted with the initial response from the public.

David Lock Associates held a two-day exhibition in the town centre to seek people's views about their research into the problems faced by the resort.

They have found the town has an ageing population with its youngsters – its "brightest minds and most able individuals" – moving away because of too few well-paid jobs and a lack of affordable housing.

It is feared if the trends continue it could become critical to the viability and vitality of the resort.

Lawrence Revill, of David Lock Associates, who is leading the panel of experts, said the aim had been to flag up the issues facing the town and many people had visited the exhibition to look at the information and fill in questionnaires.

He felt it had been "a really good exercise" in getting people's views.

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"It was an opportunity to give people some information and details about their town which they may not perceive while going about their daily lives," he said.

"People could see how Felixstowe faces some interesting challenges and opportunities in the future.

"The situation is changing all the time. This week we have seen developments which could affect the town's hospitals, though the suggestions being made seem illogical when you look at the population statistics."

Another big concern is the lack of affordable housing. Felixstowe has had no major development since the completion of the Grange Farm and Orwell Green estates several years ago, yet the port and its jobs have continued growing.

Mr Revill said the next step would be to prepare a short report on the consultation responses and then to spend the rest of the summer drawing up options for tackling the problems.

These options would then be put together in a masterplan and should be available in the early autumn, when there will be fresh consultation.

WEBLINK: www.davidlock.com

Fatcfile: Felixstowe . . . the facts

n The town has more people of retirement age and fewer of working age than normal – 28 per cent are over 60 years old, compared with 20pc nationally.

n Between 1991-2001, its population grew by 6.6pc but there was a reduction of 18-29 year olds of 5.7pc and a growth of people aged 45-64 of 7.4pc. In 2001, 51pc of those moving from the town were aged between 16 and 34.

n Each day 6,319 people drive down the A14 to work in Felixstowe – 48pc of the town's employment numbers.

n The port employs 2,700 and a further 9,850 work in port-related businesses, including people whose work takes them away from the town such as truckers.

n The port provides low skill, low pay work – average earnings in the town are £365 a week compared with £416 nationally.

n Schools in the town have a capacity for 4,593 children but there are only 4,114 in school and this number is expected to fall to 3,729 by 2010.

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